An elastomer-based force and tactile sensor
Tactile and force sensing devices that are capable to interactively explore the external environment have attracted a lot of research interest. Optical-based tactile sensors are be-coming popular because they do not suffer from electromag-netic interference and because improved signal processing techniques enable intelligent sensor data classification. Howev-er, there is still no implementation of a sensor that measures both force and tactile information concurrently in an efficient manner in terms of material efficiency. In this research, we present a novel design for an elastomer-based tactile and force sensing device that senses both information within one elasto-mer. In addition, the tactile information is measured in the form of pressure distribution from the surface of objects. The pro-posed sensor has a soft and compliant design employing an opaque elastomer. The optical sensing method is used to meas-ure both force and tactile information simultaneously based on the deformation of the reflective elastomer structure and a flexure structure. Here, we present the fabrication and devel-opment principles of the overall sensor. The experimental evaluation shows that the prototype is capable of sensing normal forces up to 70 N with an error of 6.6%.